only slightly a mess

messy watercolor palette

Well, my watercolor palette got a bit, er, messy in traveling. The colors that apparently weren’t dry ran. But luckily, it warn’t too bad. The red didn’t infiltrate, the black just jumped to the other side of the palette and the sepia mixed with the black a bit, which isn’t total disaster.

sketch for coffeeHere’s a page… ode to the Costa Bowl of coffee… I haven’t actually been doing too much watercoloring as yet. Mostly it’s just been pen. I find that we’ve just been on the move mostly… trying to fill in our time with doing stuff with not a whole lot of loitering down time. This page was done at the little Costa Italian Coffee joint at Embankment Place (under the Waterloo Bridge). It’s where we’ve been getting our joe every morning. The Baristas are friendly, Middle eastern… but I always have to ask them to repeat what they say as their accents are really thick.

London’s Toon Museum

cool logo

The Cartoon Art Museum is this charming little place on Little Russell Street, London, not far from The British Museum. It houses over 200 original cartoons and comics… including an engraving by Hogarth, Cruikshank and Searle (as in Searles’ Cats). They also had originals of Posy Simmonds (Fred the Cat), and Steve Best and a lot of stuff from the now defunct Punch Magazine. Granted, many of these names and titles I’ve not heard of, like Simon Thorp’s Mrs. Brady Old Lady, and Vern and Lettuce by Sarah McIntyre, but I love discovering new things! Comics on this side of the pond are just different… they even have their own Dennis the Menace (who looks more menacing than ours).

The museum itself is small. There’s an upstairs with random original drawings by a variety of cartoonists as well as a room for creating toons aimed more at kids, a main room which changes every-so often and a permanent gallery with the history of cartooning in Britain. The rotating show was on toys… I just missed the show on Ronald Searle, to my disappointment. But the “toy show” was impressive with animation sketches with a Wallace & Grommit or two, Famous Fred, and Morph among others.

I met a budding cartoonist who remarked on my sketching… she was from Dallas, Texas. I gave her a Squid sticker and she asked me lots of questions like, what sort of pens do I use? and how do you draw your character from the side? We chatted for a bit and I gave her a Micron 01 and a sketch of Randie. She seemed pretty happy.

The gift shop was impressive for the museum size with lots of different books on cartoons and cartooning. By this time in the afternoon, my cohorts were getting tired and restless, and I didn’t really get a good go at the books. My hope is to return to get a better look at the selection and make an informed purchase. If anything, The Ronald Searle exhibition book will come home with me.

One last thing… they didn’t let you photograph individual works at the museum, but you could take general museum photos… so I have a few posted on Flickr. Have a look.

As You Like It…

We just returned from seeing a play at The Old Vic Theatre… It was my first time seeing As You Like It by Willie Shakespeare… and, although it was quite long, I liked it.

I do funny things when I am at the THEE-AH-TER… I sketch, write and draw. I took only my sketchbook and a writing implement (Harold stayed at the flat for this one… I think he was still a bit tired from the late night previous) and I didn’t stop my scribbling activities from the play’s start to its finish. I filled up 3 or 4 pages in my Robert Bateman sketchbook. I filled those pages with quotes and a few quick character sketches and faces of theatre patrons.

And there is something intriguing about set design and art direction and costume work. The creative use of lights, sound and suggestion. A shadow can be a major tool…  the suggestion of a forest by the use of ten wooden (tree) trunks and a shadowyness  of leaves is rather genius. And changing the scene entirely with the addition of a hanging lamp and a few light pieces of furniture. I love the setting of this play with its mix of up-to-date suits (for dirty henchmen) and the 30’s inspired hobo look for the bannished Duke and his men. The Dylan-like wander/traveler Jacques. Nicely done, indeed.

The Theatre itself was a 20 minute walk from the apartment and a pleasant stroll by cafes and busking musician-types on the Waterloo Bridge. A clarinetist, a string band on a break and a latin/brazillian? band with a lively beat rounded out the lot. The play started at 7:30 and ended 3 hours later. And since we came thru a few “dodgey” South Bank areas on the way over,  on sound judgement, we chose a London cab for the trip home. The London Eye, whose bright blue lights sparkled on the Thames, contrasted the orangey-yellow of Big Ben and Parliament. Sigh… I love London.

I’ll load up more pics on Flickr tomorrow of the Cartoon Museum (OH yeah! that’s another blog entry) and the Queen’s Embankment Park (whose musical selection today was a Jazz Band from “home”)…

Jet lag is a drag…

Okay, it’s 7:45 California time… and its like 4 in the morning here. It’s warm… and I’m wide awake.

...that's port he's indulging in. This is a "blackmail" photo for sure.

The apartment here is just up from a swinging place called Gordon’s Wine Bar. It’s a little hole in the wall… you go downstairs into a cave-like place.. and there’s barrels and all manor of wines, ports, sherries and the like. But part of this establishment is this outdoor corridor that runs along the Queen’s Embankment Park. It’s got barrel tables and Londonites and tourists alike buy their bottle/carafe/glass of wine and sit all along this corridor. It’s a very happening place. The clinking of glasses and hum of the crowd is quite nice… except for the “F-this and that” girl who was somewhat irksome.

SFO and across “The Pond”…

We made it! And boy am I ready to zonk!

Jet lag is a crazy thing… so forgive any grammatical errors and such… But, in order to get accustomed, we’re staying awake…

And so from our 8ish hour flight (this seemed fast to me) on British Airways, we consumed a good lot of caffeine at Costa Coffee in The Death Star (I mean Terminal 5)… then we caught the Heathrow Express to Paddington (which was entirely done up in scaffolding and remodeling materials)… we topped up our Oyster cards (that we had from the last trip) and took the Tube to our place in the York Building just alongside the Thames River. The Tube was super screechy… and a nice Brit lady told us that when it gets warm and dry (like today is) the trains squeal a lot more. When we got off the train, there  was an orchestra playing Porgy & Bess at the Queen’s Embankment Park (a spit from our flat). And for that matter, it seems like everywhere we go, they are playing American music.

We dropped our bags at the flat… and proceeded to the HaHa Bar & Grill… by our place. Keaton, our American Actor waitress, chatted with us and we happy to have “lemonades” (Sprite with a lime) and some rather tastey wraps to nourish our poor beat, traveling selves. From there… a walk about that took us to the comic book stores all along St. Martin’s in the field and whatever street that turns into. In a few days we’ll return to visit the Cartoon Museum… it was nearly closed when we walked by.

We strolled by a local convienience market and picked up eggs and naan bread for dinner… the naan bread was super scrumptious… and we put some Stilton (how British of us) on the eggs. In just a bit there’s another walk and a pub visit… There’s a pub nearby called the Theodore Bullfrog… maybe a lemon Shandy there? or just a glass of sherry.

Oh… uploaded pics on the Brigtoon Flickr site…

The toons are done and sent off to the FTP sites… and I am finally breathing normally! Quel Relief! …or something like that. (I should’ve studied my French a little harder).

So the bags are packed, the camera is charged and most of my affairs are in order. Here’s the plan…

I just upgraded my personal Flickr account so that unlimited photos can be uploaded… etc, etc… so along with this blog (right here where you are), I will be uploading photos from this trip here: Brigtoon’s flickr …. it is also a tab on the right.

Harold is ready to travel!

Harold is thrilled. He fits in my “Euro bag” quite nicely. Euro bag was bought specifically for my last trip to Europe two years ago. It is a PacSafe product with heavy duty zippers that clasp and slash-proof straps (to guard against those wily gypsies I was warned against. It is the most comfortable backpack I have ever had… and I happily recommend their products. And Harold seems comfortable enough IN it.

So Happy Fourth to all… et Salut mon amis!

See us off this First Friday… July 2nd

This coming Monday my people and I are leaving for a three week trek in London, Paris & Provence.

So for this First Friday, July 2nd, the Cartoonery will be sporting a little Euro flavor. That’s right… We’ll have some tastey European inspired treats for happy munching. Judy will be offering Absinthe Cake in honour of our tour de France … and shortbread for our London travels. So come see me and Harold off … (this is his first European adventure and keep track of his sight-seeing online here!)

The Cartoonery, 5 East Gabilan St., Suite 205, Oldtown Salinas, CA… 5pm – 8pm.

So who esle is watching “wOrk Of ArT”?

Okay, I have to admit something… that I watch and love Project Runway. As a creative person, I like to see the creative process and the skillful manipulation of materials applied to a challenge. I love to see creative people’s ideas, style and slant on life. I enjoy ‘getting to know’ each contestant and finding out their personalities and their quirks… but it hasn’t always been so.

In the past, I have stuck to my “I hate so-called-reality-tv”. Who acts normal while a camera is filming them? And editors and producers can tweak footage to get a particular slant or perhaps overemphasis an event. Too, product placement and sponsors infiltrate the show. “Use the Bluefly wall responsibly”… and that bugs me!

But…

Imagine how excited I was when NPR did a quick story on Bravo’s new show “Work Of Art”. I immediately set my watch to showtime.

So I’ve tuned in to the two aired episodes now… and despite the formulaic structure and cheezeball appearance of that sex-in-the-city star (Mrs. what-do-YOU-do?) in episode one, I have found the show to be kind of fun. It reminds me of the art class exercises and classroom antics I experienced in college. There’s the really good artist person who’s rather annoying and that everybody talks about behind his back; the older artist who’s on a different wavelength, the really earnest and very talented artist who is under-appreciated, the guy who’s had very little training and is a complete art-naive, and ARTgirl, with the artsy haircut.

I even like the judges… notably Jerry Saltz, who seems to know what he’s talking about…  but am still trying to decipher the Tim Gunn stand-in, French Swiss accent guy, Simon de Pury.

So early on… Abdi Farah is who I am rooting for. All-around nice guy and talented, I like his style. It’s no wonder he’s been in the top 3 the first two shows. And Miles… I want to throw things at him… he’s talented… yes, but I couldn’t help but think that he was the “third butt-*7&%” in the last night’s gallery show (where he actually slept on his piece… and what was the object he fOUND at the refuse center? how did he use it again? because I missed that).

Anyhoo… So who else is watching this show? Throw me some comments.

Travel Buddy

joining the ranks of traveling stuffed companions...

Meet Harold… he’s my travel buddy. And he’s gonna be seeing Paris, London and Aix with me. He doesn’t take up much space, and doesn’t weigh much. He’s very excited about the trip, never having been abroad. I’ve shown him the travel photos from the last trip and he’s bursting at the seams to begin our journey, which starts on July 5th from San Francisco International.

Be sure to return here soon to see pictures of Harold and I traveling around Europe. (He’s a handsome devil, ain’t he? … very photogenic!)

daydreaming of Paris…

My thoughts turn to Paris. It’s not hard to float into a daydream about traveling to “the city of light.” In fact, I’m thinking about it more and more as my trip to Europe is just under a month away!

I want to daydream about sipping a coffee in a little cafe in the Latin Quarter… or walking in a French garden… or contemplating an Impressionist painting in the D’Orsay. Instead, tugging at me are such tidbits as “what shoes will you bring? Your hip Converse tennies or your more comfortable ‘walkers’?”? Both I say. “Should I pack the watercolors with me on the plane or in the luggage? How many pairs of socks should I bring?”

… expression is the conveyor belt of art… or is it the other way around?